There have been lots of hurdles - big and little - since August. Lots of first times. Some had to be faced quickly, but some I've just kept putting off.
One that I kept putting off was holding a baby. Toddlers were fine and it made me happy to be around them, but babies...newborns...were hard to see even in passing at first. They're so fragile and dependent and wonderful and unique; a kind of delicate that automatically draws out our instinct to protect and nurture.
In the few minutes that I got to hold Joseph it was as if his exact weight was imprinted on my palms. It was so simple and natural - something that may have occurred countless more times - but ended up being the only tangible connection I had with him.
For months I avoided feeling that featherweight in my hands again. But at Christmas two of my cousins had just had babies (side effect of big families: always a new baby!) and everyone was passing them around for inspection/approval. At first I just watched...but eventually I agreed to hold one.
Good Lord, that feeling. I barely even had time to act nonchalant before the tears started splashing down (unfortunately, some onto the baby's face. And that stellar child just kept sleeping). I took her into my grandparents' room and stood there swaying with her and crying. [Kudos to my cousin-in-law, by the way, who accidentally walked in and just acted like I wasn't snotty and weeping all over his niece. God bless him.] And then I was done crying. Like so many other hurdles, it simply had to happen. And once I let it, it was hard, and then good (it sounds so overly-simplistic). I could hold them, and take in their tiny features, and rock them, and not be afraid.
This story (posted by a friend) has also given me a new perspective on not being afraid...what an amazing, joyful, inspiring couple. I'm thanking God today for a woman I never even met, and the fact that there are saints all around us.